Open (speculation) thread: What do you think will happen in Glagow East – and will it matter?

What is it about parliamentary by-elections? You wait ages for one, then four come along at once. Hot-on-the-heels of Crewe and Nantwich, Henley and Haltemprice & Howden is Glasgow East, theoretically at least a safe Labour seat. Here was the result at the 2005 general election:

David Marshall, Labour 18,775 (61%)
Lachlan McNeill, Scottish National Party 5,268 (17%)
David Jackson, Liberal Democrat 3,665 (12%)
Carl Thomson, Conservative 2,135 (7%)
George Savage, Scottish Socialist Party 1,096 (4%)
Labour majority: 13,507 (44%), Turnout: 48%

It’s clear enough this is the proverbial two-horse race for first position, with the SNP apparently breathing down the Labour party’s neck. It would take a swing of more than 22% from Labour to the Nationalists for an upset to happen. Difficult, but certainly not impossible: 22% was exactly what the SNP achieved in the 1999 Hamilton South by-election prompted by George Robertson’s elevation to a peerage, though Labour clung on with a three-figure majority.

A lot will almost certainly depend this time on turnout. Fewer than half the voters turned out for the general election, so how many will show up to cast their vote today? The party which best motivates its supporter base will most likely emerge victorious.

Labour sources seem to be quietly confident of victory – but, then again, so they were in Dunfermline in 2006, when Willie Rennie sensationally snatched a famous by-election victory for the Lib Dems. There has been a marked complacency among Labour campaigners in Scottish constituencies in the past which suggests that all is up for grabs today.

For the Lib Dems it’s hard to know how to judge our result, given that it’s likely voters wanting to give the Labour government a kicking will choose to do so by voting SNP – which suggests our 12% vote in 2005 will get heavily squeezed. The Tory vote, already small at 7%, is more likely to be resistant.

In Hamilton in 1999, both the Lib Dem and Tory votes fell – indeed, the Lib Dems finished in sixth place, well behind the Scottish Socialist and Independent candidates: apparently it was “the worst placing in a by-election by any major party since the Liberal candidate in the Glasgow Camlachie by-election, 1948 also came sixth.” Yet our poor showing there had little significance for the party as a whole in Scotland.

In Ian Robertson the party has been fortunate to have an excellent candidate who – it’s widely acknowledged – has represented the Lib Dem cause well. Whatever vote Ian gets, he personally has come out of the campaign well.

In any event, the only real national significance of the Glasgow East result is whether Labour holds on, and what this means for Gordon Brown’s fortunes…

Is a Scottish Labour victory, however tight a squeak, good for the national Labour party, as it makes it less likely Gordon Brown will come under renewed leadership pressure? Or would that be a bad result for Labour precisely for that reason? After all, as John Rentoul notes on the Indy’s Open House blog, the polls suggest that Mr Brown is a drag on Labour’s ratings:

Cameron lifts his party, Brown drags his down. Labour is popular, Brown is not. Labour MPs will ponder those facts over the summer, whatever happens in Glasgow East today.

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This entry was posted in Parliamentary by-elections.


  • Dominic hannigan 24th Jul '08 - 2:15pm

    My prediction would be a Labour majority of between 1 and 2 thousand, which could actually mark a bit of a turning point ofr Labour. It will halt any prospect of someone moving to remove brown and past evidence suggests that Cameron does not do well in the summer. I know its only one example, but I feel the Tory machine is not set up well for the silly season. Watch this space for some embarrassing tory stories and gaffes over the summer.

    Don’t get me wrong I still think we are facing a tory govt in two years, but I think the wind will be significantly taken out of the sails over recess.

  • David Morton 24th Jul '08 - 2:23pm

    know nothing about scottish politics but 22% swings frequently happen against unpopular governments. This government is unpopular and the SNP still seem to be on Honeymoon. They started in a clear second place. I doubt what ever the result that it will matter much. Forcing brown out at the beginning of a three month recess would surely trigger a recall of parliament and scenes reminicent of a bananna republic.

    With regard to the tories and summer Dominic has a good point but I fear is no longer valid after the appointment of Andy Coulson.

  • “For the Lib Dems it’s hard to know how to judge our result, given that it’s likely voters wanting to give the Labour government a kicking will choose to do so by voting SNP – which suggests our 12% vote in 2005 will get heavily squeezed. The Tory vote, already small at 7%, is more likely to be resistant.”

    It’s nice to see that the previous line – that it was important for us to finish ahead of the Tories – has been dropped.

    Could this have anything to do with the poll that showed us at 3%?

  • Grammar Police 24th Jul '08 - 4:43pm

    Anon, you mean “the poll that showed *you* at 3%”?

  • passing tory 24th Jul '08 - 4:55pm

    I don’t think the result will make the blindest bit of difference. Brown and his immediate entourage are convinced of their own righteousness and there are very few avenues available for forcing him out. He’s gonna stick it out because that’s the sort of stubborn soab he is.

    For what it’s worth I would be hard pressed to bet against the SNP on this one. The chance for all non-Labour voters to give GB a good kicking is likely to be very hard to resist. I doubt that either the Lib Dem or the Tory vote is going to look impressive, but then I don’t think that means anything in the wider context either (so I have to agree with Anon, that bit about the Tory vote on 7% being more resiliant looks like a singularly poorly executed piece of result management).

  • Grammar Police

    Oh, not this endless rubbish about “anyone who disagrees with me must only be pretending to be a Liberal Democrat” again?

    Why don’t you just grow up?

  • Cheltenham Robin 24th Jul '08 - 9:48pm

    Labour majority of 2500

    We will come fourth.

  • The Telegraph suggests a much closer result than expected:

    Nervous Labour campaign insiders would only predict that the final majority would be “a couple of hundred votes either way”.

    The Conservatives were hopeful of a morale-boosting third place, above the Liberal Democrats who finished in third place at the last General Election.

  • The BBC’s Michael Crick, at the count, thinks the result will be “very, very close”, and cannot predict who will win. But quotes Conservative observers predicting a narrow Labour win.

  • Grammar Police 24th Jul '08 - 11:27pm

    @ 28 days Anon, I only say it because I think you’re pretending, because *every time* you post something it’s very negative and often suggests a Tory perspective.

    I believe you’re a Conservative/conservative thinking you’re causing trouble by making out your a disillusioned Lib Dem. And that annoys me because it’s unnecessary – as you say, why don’t you just grow up?

    If I’m wrong, as I said before, surprise me by saying “hi” in the forums section – only members can access.

  • Grammar Police 24th Jul '08 - 11:34pm

    And actually Anon, I agree with you on this – it will be disappointing if you, er, I mean the Conservatives, come third ahead of us. Then again, as I believe someone has said before (possibly Passing Tory?), the story will be Lab failure/Lab success and not the fairly miserable scores of both LD and Con, which will both be squeezed, and therefore largely irrelevant in the wider context.

    The slight decline in LD support Scotland-wide, however, might see us lose seats there at the next GE – hopefully this will be something our new leader there can stem.

  • Hywel Morgan 24th Jul '08 - 11:58pm

    Seems probable we’ve come fourth from the reports.

    What this means for our General Election performance is zip. We lost our deposit in SE Staffs in 1996 and Hamilton & Falkirk in 1999/2000 and did pretty well at the following Generals.

  • Grammar Police

    If you disagree with what I’m saying, argue against it, for heaven’s sake. Don’t just come out with some nonsense about “you must be a Tory in disguise”.

    But apparently you actually agree with what I’m saying (!) – that it really doesn’t matter who comes third.

    Perhaps you should engage your brain before posting and – if you must attack someone – attack those who have been saying it’s “important” for us to poll more than the Tories. It clearly isn’t, and as there’s a fair likelihood we won’t, it’s stupid to put that argument.

  • And the BBC is now saying that it looks as though the SNP has won.

  • David Morton 25th Jul '08 - 12:37am

    John pinnear says the Lib Dems fourth and “may” have lost deposit.

  • David Morton 25th Jul '08 - 1:06am

    All the media talking heads say the SNP have won. Labour look miserable, SNP estatic. Tories claiming they have come third.

  • David Morton 25th Jul '08 - 1:12am

    BBC saying the Lib Dems have conceded they are 4th and are ” likely” to have lost there deposit

  • David Morton 25th Jul '08 - 1:30am

    They now say its going to a recount. Not clear why.

  • David Morton 25th Jul '08 - 1:34am

    BBC says frances Curran, the socialist candidate has scored more votes than the SNP majority (354). Ergo Labour have asked for a recount because of there candidate having the same name.

  • That’s a little far-fetched surely…??

  • “Labour have asked for a recount because of there candidate having the same name.”

    I’m not clear what difference a recount can make to that fact!

  • Richard Gadsden 25th Jul '08 - 1:39am

    The counter might have put some votes for Labour in the SSP pile.

  • Hywel Morgan 25th Jul '08 - 1:40am

    I think the best result we could have (in terms of enjoyability) is Labour winning by 50 after the SNP candidate had been paraded in front of the media as a conquering hero.

  • A recount means the final result comes later, and reduces coverage of labours loss in the friday papers. So even if labour know they have lost, if it within their rights then its in their interests.

  • You’ve been royally shafted !!

  • passing tory 25th Jul '08 - 5:20am

    Tango, matt, I will stand by what I said earlier. However nice it is for the Tories to have some in third I don’t think that this positioning has any particular significance in the wider electoral context. That is not to say the Tories will not do very well (and very much better than the LDs) in next GE; I think they will. But trying to predict the extent of this based on the Glasgow result last night is a fool’s game.

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 8:10am

    28 Days Anon, stop posting rubbish. I’m not attacking you for your views, I just don’t believe you’re a Lib Dem and it’s complete nonsense to pretend you are (will you have posted in the forums when I go and look in a minute?).
    I agree with you that it’s disappointing for Lib Dems to be beaten here by the Conservatives, but I think media attention will be on the SNP win. Those two views are compatible – and the facts on media attention will either prove me right or wrong.

  • Grammar Police

    If you really think I’m going to go to the trouble of re-registering for the private forum, just to prove a point to someone as bone-headed as you, you’re quite wrong.

    But you can believe what you like – it doesn’t make one iota of difference either way to the validity of anything I say. If you can’t argue against it, endlessly saying “I don’t believe you’re a Lib Dem” is a pathetic substitute.

    In this case, you haven’t even bothered to take in what I am saying. I have said all along that it isn’t important who comes third, and that all the attention will be on first place.

    What I’ve pointed out is that the articles on this site said it _was_ important when the polls indicated we would come third, but that it _wasn’t_ important when they indicated otherwise. That kind of propaganda is just a bit too transparent to be effective.

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 9:18am

    Yeah, whatever. I think you’re quite boneheaded enough to enjoy proving me wrong, as you like to have the last word, so I think the fact you won’t spend about a minute registering on the site speaks volumes – and perhaps suggests you’re lying about being a party member for years and years.

    None of my arguments against anything you’ve said before have been based on the fact you’re not a Lib Dem. What I have pointed out is your pathetic attempts to be pretend to be a Lib Dem don’t add any weight to your views. You’re right “it doesn’t make one iota of difference either way to the validity of anything I say” and yet you obviously believe it does, which is why you keep up this ridiculous pretence.

    Of course, if you are a member – I’ll take it back with a blush, but if that’s the case, I would ask you to think if you really are a Lib Dem – as from your posts you don’t seem to approve of anything the party does at all, which can’t be good for one’s blood pressure!

  • Grammar Police

    If you spent a little more time reading what people actually wrote, and a little less indulging your paranoid obsessions, it would be better for all concerned.

    But that’s the Internet for you, I suppose.

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 9:32am

    *Ha ha*; that’s a good one. Will you post again, just to have the last word? ;o)

  • Hywel Morgan 25th Jul '08 - 10:27am

    We lost our deposit in SE Staffs in 1996. Our worst performance ever in a by-election in a Tory held seat.

    Cue mass handwringing from the party (myself included) – the strategies wrong, the style’s wrong, the leader has to get the message…

    We did pretty well at the following General Election though 🙂

  • Alix

    If you don’t believe that I’m a member of the party – and have been an active member of the party for more than 20 years – that’s up to you.

    But your request that I “prove” I’m a member of the party by giving a recitation of how keen I am on its policies and how well I think it’s been doing in the media is beyond belief!

    If you’ve read my comments, you’ll already know very well that I am not at all happy with the current direction of the party, and that I don’t find its transformation into one whose first priority is tax cuts, and one which will cut public spending in order to deliver them, at all “fun”.

    You seem to be suggesting that people who aren’t happy-clappy Cleggites have no place in the party – that we should leave. Is that really what you’re suggesting?

  • “If it’s helpful, I’m sure any of the LDV team (including myself) would be happy to receive a direct private message from you demonstrating that you’re a member and report that back whilst preserving your anonymity.”

    If it would put an end to the nonsense, I’d be happy to send you my membership details.

    I’m a bit confused about quite how this will work, though. A number of people here post under the name “Anonymous”. A number of others post under pseudonyms such as “Grammar Police”. In fact, as far as I can see, anyone can post here under any name they choose; there’s nothing to stop someone posting under someone else’s name – or pseudonym – is there?

    I can see that you can confirm that someone claiming to be the Anonymous poster at 3.05pm has sent you proof that he is a party member. But do we have to go through the same rigmarole every time someone disagrees with something I say, and starts up the same nonsense again?

    Wouldn’t it be better if you, as a moderator, encouraged people to argue the issues rather than coming out with silly stuff of this kind?

  • Anonymous, perhaps you could become psuedononymous…

  • Oranjepan, the point I’m making is that posting under a pseudonym wouldn’t really solve the problem.

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 12:38pm

    @28 Days Anon
    “But do we have to go through the same rigmarole every time someone disagrees with something I say, and starts up the same nonsense again?”

    How many damn times do I have to say this: It’s nothing to do with whether I agree or disagree with you. I just object to people posting and pretending to be members of a party because they believe this adds weight to their comments, or is more “damaging”. If you’re not doing that, I apologies profusely, but I think many would agree it’s not surprising I think this. And no, I don’t challange every anonymous, and wouldn’t want to (and I don’t really care who you are) but you’re a repeat poster who makes a point of specifically saying you’re a Lib Dem.

    On the techical side; nothing to stop anyone posting as someone else’s name – or pseudonym – apart from the email address you use and the IP address of the computer(s) you use, both of which I’m sure are visible to the moderators. So they know who the real Grammar Police is because he always uses the same email address and 2 IP addresses.

  • “Psuedononymous Oranjepan” at 12:29 pm – the mods will see you’re not him, because you didn’t use Oranjepan’s email address or IP address.

  • Grammar PCSO 25th Jul '08 - 12:43pm

    Er *apologise”

  • Grammar Police

    OK, I’ve sent my membership details to Lib Dem Voice, so you should be getting the confirmation you seem so desperate for.

    For the reference of others – it’s not necessary to provide an email address when posting here. And I very much doubt whether the staff of Lib Dem Voice spend their time checking the IP address of every post – let alone deleting all the posts where there is a discrepancy!

  • It’s not necessary, but I’m sure they can.

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 1:22pm

    No, I’m sure they don’t spend their time looking for discrepencies in IP addresses – but if someone complained and said “that post isn’t me” then they could check. And you might not need an email address, but if someone normally uses one and doesn’t and the IP address doesn’t tally then it’s likely that it’s not them.

    It seems maybe I’m about to be proved wrong about your membership of the party, and for that I do apologise. P’raps I got you wrong: you must have a pretty joyless time in the Party, and I’m sorry for that too as no one wants to be a member of something that just frustrates them.

  • Grammar,

    Paul Walter has regular discussions with his commenters on exactly this point, perhaps you could take some advice there.

    He usually follows the line that if you’ve got nothing positive to say then its not worth saying, so anon should at least try to play the game of being constructive.

  • “you must have a pretty joyless time in the Party”


    Apart from the new right-wing line coming from the leadership at Westminster, the party I’m involved with locally is much the same as it always has been, and to a large extent is run by the same people who were running it 10 or 20 years ago.

    For that reason, I am doubtful that the silent majority is particularly enthusiastic about the new policies. Though, to be fair, a lot of ordinary party members and helpers are not highly “political”, in my experience.

    But I really do think some of the younger members confuse the febrile arguments that go on in cyberspace with the flesh-and-blood realities.

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 1:50pm

    In fairness, I don’t really mind if Anon wants to post negative things – these things sometimes need saying, and people can decide how reasonable they are and can hone their arguments against them if they so choose. What I do object to is deceit for some imagined political gain – trying to make out that members and activists are demoralised and leaving – and plenty of people do it on political sites.

    Undoubtably though, one remains happier if one makes constructive comments.

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 1:54pm

    I agree with a lot of that Anon, many members and helpers are not especially political – and posting on sites like these is certainly a tiny minority sport. Things can and do get much more “heated” online, a distinct disadvantage of the medium.

  • “In fairness, I don’t really mind if Anon wants to post negative things”

    Big of you!

    But having just apologised for suggesting I was a Tory, apparently now you’re going to characterise my posts as “negative”.

    Can’t you just accept that some people in the party have opinions that are different from yours?

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 2:24pm

    Oh, ffs. I was responding to Oranjepan, who suggested that “anon should at least try to play the game of being constructive.”

    With pretty much every post of yours I’ve seen, you have made some criticism of the Party. So I think “negative” is a fair characterisation of your posts overall. That was _one_ of the reasons I thought you were lying about being a member.

    Pretty much every other poster on this site has different views to me, and I by no means support everything that the Party does.

  • Anon, while you’ve got our attention and before you lose it why don’t you tell Gram and me what you do want, eh?

    Seeing as this is a thread about the by-election maybe we could get back to the topic and ask how relevant is it in the overall scale of events?; will the SNP retain the seat at the general election?; was it the sun(shine) wot swung it?

  • passing tory 25th Jul '08 - 2:44pm

    Anon, I hate to barge into your little mutual admiration session with Grammar Police, but it would be rather helpful if you picked a pseudonym a little more distinctive than the default. Although you have a rather singular tone, we are not mind readers so can’t reliably map posts to their originators.

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 2:53pm

    Be my guest PT, be my guest!

  • Stephen

    Thanks for confirming that.

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